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Equitation Science Conference Underway

October 2018 by Horses and People Magazine

The 14th International Society of Equitation Science conference has begun!

The world’s leading equine and welfare scientists have gathered in Rome to share their latest research at the 14th International Equitation Science Conference.

This year’s ISES conference features one of the most exciting and varied programmes to date, with over 140 different plenary lectures, oral and poster presentations, workshops and practical demonstrations exploring the best of what’s new in equine science.

The conference theme is Equine welfare: good training, good feeding, good housing, good mental states, good health and good behaviour. Whether you are an equine student, professional, owner or enthusiast the wealth of research to be presented is undoubtedly thought-provoking.

The four-day programme began with two innovative workshops:

Kate Fenner gave delegates the chance to be involved with the development of her ongoing Equine Behaviour Assessment and Research Questionnaire (E-BARQ). Attendees will discover how E-BARQ can benefit different areas of the equestrian community and make positive, lasting impacts on horse welfare.

Paolo Baragli, Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pisa, Italy, explored emerging technologies and methods to analyse heart rate variability (HRV) in equines. Used correctly, HRV analysis can be a powerful diagnostic tool, helping to measure stress levels, fitness and heart health, potentially giving valuable insight into equine welfare.

After a packed programme of plenary lectures, oral and poster presentations, the last day of the conference promises plenty of informative practical demonstrations:

Dr Sue McDonnell, Adjunct Professor and Head of the Equine Behaviour Program at the University of Pennsylvania will be giving advice on how to keep horses comfortable during healthcare procedures and rehabilitate those who have learned aversions. Some of the most common horse behaviour problems are related to healthcare and examination procedures, such as injections, lifting limbs and taking temperatures. Dr McDonnell will demonstrate how to ensure these procedures are easier for both horse and handler, how to avoid creating further problems, and how to instead reinforce relaxation and compliance.

Dr Barbara Padalino, Assistant Professor at the University of Bari and Hong Kong will teach delegates how to assess horse fitness for transport, which is compulsory in many live animal transportation regulations worldwide. Dr Padalino will demonstrate some simple health checks that horse owners and caretakers can carry out themselves to reduce the risk of transport-related disease.

Dr Pat Harris, Head of the Waltham Equine Studies Group will be discussing the importance of using a Body Condition Score (BCS) system to identify equines at risk of obesity-related health problems. Delegates will learn how to carry out a BCS in a consistent and uniform way so that veterinary advice and appropriate changes in management can be made as soon as possible.

Angelo Telatin, Ass. Professor, Department of Equine Science, Delaware Valley University, United States, and Marco Pagliai, Addestramento Etologico, San Marcello Pistoiese, Italy, will both be demonstrating how you can use the principles of learning to improve communication with your horse, either when riding or training your horse from the ground at liberty, thereby avoiding the confusion and stress that leads to behaviour problems and poor welfare.

Rebecca Gimenez of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue will be demonstrating how barn fire evacuation procedures can be improved with training and practice. Unfortunately, fire prevention and response information often fails to address strategies recommended by fire service personnel for equine facilities. This demonstration will provide practical, tested methods for reducing evacuation times.

ISES Hon. President and Associate Professor at Aarhus University, Janne Winther Christensen is looking forward to this year’s conference. “We have had a number of exciting presentations related to the cornerstones for good horse welfare. I am thrilled to see so many delegates in beautiful Rome!’

Keep up to date with the all the latest news during and after the conference on social media by following #ISESROME2018